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Sri Lanka's main opposition parties boycott IMF review meeting called by Prez Wickremesinghe

Colombo, Mar 11 (PTI) After the Opposition in Sri Lanka on Sunday declined President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s invitation to attend a review meeting of the IMF bailout programme, only the Tamil National Alliance, took part in Monday’s meeting with the global lender to help the cash-strapped nation to overcome the financial crisis.

Colombo, Mar 11 (PTI) After the Opposition in Sri Lanka on Sunday declined President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s invitation to attend a review meeting of the IMF bailout programme, only the Tamil National Alliance, took part in Monday’s meeting with the global lender to help the cash-strapped nation to overcome the financial crisis.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday last began its two-week-long second review of the March 2023 bailout of USD 2.9 billion spanning over four years. Two tranches of USD 330 million each were released in March and December of last year.

Minister of State for Finance Asanka Shehan Semasinghe told reporters that M A Sumanthiran, the leading TNA parliamentarian, attended the meeting this morning after the main opposition SJB and the Marxist JVP snubbed the invitation.

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is the main Tamil party in Sri Lanka.

Semasinghe stressed that the invitation was “still open” during the ongoing IMF’s two-week-long review.

Sumanthiran later told reporters that the government had agreed to release the IMF’s technical assistance reports to the Opposition upon request.

He said he had told the meeting that transparency of the process was in doubt. The IMF reports, analysing why their recommendations are needed to further the ongoing bailout, have not been made public.

Sumanthiran conveyed that the IMF conditions had not been beneficial to the poor.

The IMF and Sri Lanka had in March 2023 struck a deal to provide a bailout worth USD 2.9 billion over four years.

The Opposition has been critical of the “hard reforms” that have been imposed, such as high taxes and utility rate hikes. It has vowed to renegotiate the programme under a future government.

The IMF bailout was worked out after Sri Lanka had declared its first-ever sovereign default in April 2022.

The government is yet to reach an agreement on external debt restructuring even after prolonged negotiations. PTI CORR GSP AKJ GSP

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